It's time to click open our weekly Baltimore Ravens mailbag. This is the biggest response the Ravens blog has ever received, so I will try to answer as many questions as I can ...
— Jared Burton (@jaredburton333) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: The Ravens are loaded with middle-round picks with a projected three in the fourth round (the one compensatory can't be traded) and two in the fifth (again, the comp pick can't be traded). A fifth-round pick has been used in trades for two wide receivers -- Brandon Marshall and Mike Wallace -- but the trade market for receiver might have dried up. You'll likely hear about how Greg Jennings is available after the Minnesota Vikings acquired Wallace. The problem is, Jennings' $8.9 million salary makes him more of a candidate to get cut. As far as tight ends, the only one that the Ravens should attempt to get is Vernon Davis. The San Francisco 49ers, however, have said they envision Davis being on the team in 2015. Another potential trade candidate is the Jacksonville Jaguars' Marcedes Lewis. According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapaport, teams have inquired about a trade for Lewis after free agency started. The Ravens, though, would need Lewis to reduce his $6.65 million salary. So the Ravens have the picks to get a trade done, but I'm not sure if there is anyone worthy of acquiring.
@jamisonhensley How do you see the safetys shaping up for the Ravens next year?
— Neal J. Freeman (@StandNeal) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: The big question is who's lining next to Will Hill on the starting defense. The Ravens want Matt Elam to step up and take the spot, but they can't bank on it after how the first-round pick regressed last year. The Ravens are expected to bring back free agent Jeromy Miles, who is more of a spot starter than a full-time one. Terrence Brooks, a third-round pick from a year ago, is out for the first six games of the regular season because of a knee injury. With so much uncertainty at safety, the Ravens need to sign an inexpensive free agent like last year when they picked up Darian Stewart. There have been reports about the Ravens' interest in Ron Parker, who can make plays in coverage but struggles in run support. Other options include ex-Raven Dawan Landry, Stevie Brown and Louis Delmas. The Ravens will be best served to hold an open competition for the spot between Elam, Miles and a new addition (either a free agent or a middle-round pick).
@jamisonhensley who do you think will be next years McPhee/A Jones/Ellerbe who play themselves out of the Ravens price range?
— Zach Rocheleau (@ZachRocheleau) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: That would be guard Kelechi Osemele. He's one of the best young linemen in the game, and he will command a sizable contract if he can remain healthy this season. One of the big decisions that the Ravens will face in 2016 is what to do at both guard positions. Osemele and Marshal Yanda are entering the final years of their contracts. Yanda, a perennial Pro Bowl player, is only 30 and has at least three more years left in him. It will be difficult for the Ravens to pay both of them.
@jamisonhensley Eric DeCosta indicated it is very possible an elite WR is available late in the 1st round. Think Ravens go WR in 1st round?
— Thomas Ladson (@ThomasLadson) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: It's a strong possibility because this is a good draft class for wide receivers. Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, Ohio State's Devin Smith, Auburn's Sammie Coates, Miami's Philip Dorsett and Central Florida's Breshad Permian could all draw consideration at the bottom of the first round. The Ravens need a deep threat to replace Torrey Smith's big plays downfield.
@jamisonhensley with the extra cap space we have, are we looking at giving a new contract to KO and redoing Yanda's deal?
— Didier B. (@Didier5B) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: According to spotrac.com, the Ravens have about $8.8 million in cap space, which really isn't much. An extension with Yanda would give the Ravens even more cap room, but that would've been more helpful to have that done at the start of free agency. As far as Osemele, the Ravens are impressed by his play and believe he has Pro Bowl potential. Still, if someone is going to get an extension, the favorites are cornerback Jimmy Smith or kicker Justin Tucker. That's why I believe Osemele is going to be the 2016 version of Pernell McPhee, a player who prices himself out of the Ravens' range.
— Saif (@Monoculturist) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: Even though he would come cheap, James Casey wouldn't help the Ravens. He has six catches in his last two seasons before being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. In his six NFL seasons, Casey has caught over 18 passes just once.
— Anthony Biedenkapp (@AntShaw) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: The Ravens aren't going to fill their void at tight end based on what they can get in free agency or through a trade. They need to hedge their bet at this position, which means adding a veteran and a rookie draft pick. The hope is one will play well enough to complement Crockett Gillmore, who is a solid blocker but a developing pass catcher.
@jamisonhensley how are the Ravens going to replace the speed of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones
— Cookie Gilchrist (@FritzthecatAK) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: It has to come through the draft, where speedy receivers will be available in the first two rounds. Miami's Phillip Dorsett is considered the fastest wide receiver in the draft. Auburn's Sammie Coates has outstanding straight-line speed, and Ohio State's Devin Smith has excellent top-end speed. That's why I would be surprised if the Ravens didn't come away with a deep threat in the first couple of rounds.
@jamisonhensley Seems like every time Marlon Brown is on the field he makes a play...why haven't we seen more of him and will we now?
— ryan_hannan (@ryan_hannan) March 13, 2015
@jamisonhensley: Marlon Brown has great hands but lacks the ability to get separation on a consistent basis. It seemed like every catch he made last season came with a defender draped on him. Brown can carve a niche as a red-zone target. He caught seven touchdowns inside the 20-yard line as a rookie, but he didn't get one pass thrown his way in the red zone last season. Brown has to get off to a better start in training camp to make sure he's in the Ravens' plans this year.